San Diego Wine & Food Festival kicks off this week

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Starting this Monday from November 13 to November 20, San Diego will be hosting its perennial San Diego Wine & Food Festival (SDWFF).

Founded in 2004 by producers Ken Loyst and Michelle Metter, the renowned celebration has been highly touted by critics from across the globe, and it’s raking some acclaimed new visitors this time around.

“This year, we are excited to host a line up of new celebrity chefs joining us for the first time such as Marcus Samuelsson, Michelle Bernstein, Rick Moonen, Cosmo Goss, Erling Wu-Bower, Renee Ericsson, and many others,” said Metter via email.

“Our Monday night dinner series, featuring some of the city’s top chefs alongside guest chefs from across the country, kicks off the Festival for the first time.”

This comes as no surprise as the festival has always prized itself on showcasing some of the best chefs, culinary entrepreneurs, food and fine wines that draw from an esteemed international community.

But using the word ‘international’ may almost be an understatement.

Marcus Samuelsson, one of the culinary connoisseurs on the hit Netflix TV show, Chopped, takes his roots from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. To Rick Moonen, a highly acclaimed seafood chef and New York native.

The famous 'Chopped' star will be making his first appearance at the San Diego Wine and Food Festival.

The famous ‘Chopped’ star will be making his first appearance at the San Diego Wine and Food Festival.

These are just a few of the star-studded cast to be on-hand at SDWFF.

However, while SDWFF certainly attracts crowds from many corners of San Diego both domestically and internationally abroad, it also draws in aspiring locals who have attempted to fashion their cooking by putting them to the test in the past.

In 2010, Terree Rola auditioned to become the “Next Food TV Network Star” the same year before attending SDWFF—making it the eclectic event that draws from a variety of people from different cooking skills and professions.

And for newcomers to the festival, there’s an addition that’s open to all patrons.

“In the Spirit | Whisk(e)y treats aficionados to a night of whisky tasting from brands around the globe and cuisine from Soda & Swine with a tasting station by Glenmorangie and Marcus Samuelsson,” said Metter. “Also new this year, our afterparty is a ‘whose who’ of Top Chef Alumni with several past cast members teaming up with Giselle Wellman at Pacific Standard to wrap up the day.”

While the event may not be for the frugal of heart with a price range from $50-$325, you certainly get what you pay for and more. On November 17 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., tyro and foodie aficionados alike will have the opportunity to have a memorable dinner with many of the aforementioned chefs and icons.

Additionally, all patrons will partake in a live auction at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina in the Grand Ballroom.

But many San Diegans can relax in knowing that SDWFF caters to everyone with more quiescent events detached from all of the glamor and fame like ‘Safe Harbor,’ which will transpire from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the United Portuguese Hall.

This educational event -which will be hosted by Moonen- will be free of charge and serves to inform the public of humanity’s impact on the oceans through seafood consumption and advice on choosing seafood that is sustainable for the environment.

Furthermore, this worldwide event goes even further than what is expected to reach its fans and connoisseurs through activities and panels to inform the public on the aforementioned exigent issues.

In 2015, SommCon was introduced with the intention of offering informative and educational conferences in light of the properties of beer, wine and the spirit industry. During these conferences, professionals of the these parts of the industry gather to provide insight and advice to attendees.

The conference was a huge success, and it will be returning on November 16 and carry on throughout the event to November 20.

“Its an action-packed week with the Festival also playing host to SommCon,” said Metter. “A four-day educational conference for wine professionals and enthusiasts, that features close to 50 different wine education and tasting sessions with some of today’s top leaders in the business.”

Of course, SDWFF isn’t all about the food either.

In fact, its trademark events are embedded in the wine culture.

The San Diego Wine and Food Festival truly has a prolific amount of wine taste tests ranging from a wide variety of brands

The San Diego Wine and Food Festival truly has a prolific amount of wine taste tests ranging from a wide variety of brands

“Our signature event, the Lexus Grand Tasting, will draw crowds to its culinary theater where Rick Bayless will headline alongside several other celebrity chefs,” said Metter.

“As usual, the Grand Tasting will host 200 wine, beer and spirit purveyors, 60 restaurants and gourmet food companies, live entertainment, the SAVOR pavilion featuring wine and restaurants from San Luis Obispo County and so much more.”

Of course, one may wonder as to where the middle ground is between sharing the spotlight with some of the most famous food gourmet artisans in the business to events that are solely educational in nature.

But that is precisely where SDWFF differentiates itself from the competition.

One of the many events that allows for an affordable venture is the ‘Tour of Sicily,’ which takes food lovers through Italy’s many geographical wonders while offering contextual history on the wine and food endemic to the region.

Whether you are an amateur to the food scene, or well-seasoned, you cannot afford to miss SDWFF—the most acclaimed celebration of food and wine from over 150 wineries, 60 local restaurants, and celebrity judges.

But don’t be fooled, SDWFF has some of the more whimsical fun activities best suited for many types of personalities. And perhaps best of all, it doesn’t require an interest in an erudite assortment of facts relating to food and wine.

The final event gives the perfect topping -both metaphorically and literally- for attendees who want to indulge in the finer pizzas they perhaps will ever taste in their lifetime. Featuring some of San Diego’s top pizza chefs, patrons will be serenaded to music, cocktail stations and a entertaining cooking bout between bartenders.

For Metter, this was perhaps one of the better send-offs the event has had to offer in the past.

“If you are attending this year and still in town on Sunday, you will want to visit Pizzapalooza, the finale to the weeklong Festival, featuring the Battle of the Bartenders and multiple tasting stations.”

Make sure to make the commute to El Cajon Boulevard for this occasion of a lifetime.

All additional details can be found through their website.



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